Doing it For Yourself!

The arrival of spring is a great motivation to get out the paint brush or saw….and get DIY-ing, but do you know what to ask for when you realise at the last minute that you are missing that ‘absolutely-can’t-finish-the-job-without’ screw, nail or spanner?

The tools…..les outils

burin (m) – chisel
clé (f)…. spanner
… à cliquer – ratchet
…plate – open-end spanner
…à molette – adjustable spanne
cutter (f) – Stanley knife
lime (f) – file
marteau (m) – hammer
massette (f) – lump hammer
niveau à bulle (m) – spirit level
perceuse/ visseuse (f) – drill/screwgun
pince (f) – pliers
pinceau (m) – brush
pistolet à colle – glue gun
rabot (m) – plane
rouleau (m ) – roller
serre joint (m) – clamp
scie…. (f) – saw
….égoïne – handsaw
… à métaux – hacksaw
….sauteuse – jigsaw
tournevis (m)… – screwdriver
…plat – flat screwdriver
…cruciforme – ‘phillips’ screwdriver
tronçonneuse (f) – chain saw
truelle (f) – trowel

Things that drop through the cracks….

boulon (m) – bolt
clou (m) – nail
cheville – plug
écrou (m) – nut
vis (m) – screw


béton – concrete
carrelage – floor tiles
charpente – roof timbers
crépi – rendering
crochet – hook
douille – electrical socket
échafaudage – scaffolding
faïence – wall tiling
aggloméré – chipboard
prise femelle – socket
prise male – plug
placoplâtre – plasterboard
peinture – paint
établi (m) – workbench /the carpenter’s bench
boîte à outils (f) – tool box

la maçonnerie – masonry
la menuiserie – woodwork
la peinture – paintwork, painting
la plomberie – plumbing
la tapisserie – upholstery

Getting on with it…

boulonner – to bolt
clouer – to nail
dévisser – to screw down
démonter – to dismantle
frotter – to scrub
limer – to file
peindre – to paint
percer – to drill
raboter – to plane
raccorder – to join
réparer – to repair
restaurer – to restore
rénover – to renovate
scier – to saw
sceller – to seal
serrer – to tighten
tapisser – to wallpaper
visser – to screw


  1. I’ve heard my plumber refer to a “multi-pince” – the big adjustable wrebch used to tighten or remove tap nuts, pipe nuts and so on.

  2. Clé anglaise?
    Dictionary says : adjustable spanner; shifting-spanner (never heard of that one, though I’m not an expert) British English ; monkey-wrench (US)

Leave a Comment